Brooklyn Nets

Stat Just Happened: Nets superstar Kevin Durant is shooting layups from midrange

"Stat Just Happened" is our series where we pair an important stat with how it actually unfolded on the floor. Our aim? To answer key questions, uncover hidden truths and peel back the curtain on why some numbers matter more than others.

61.2%

According to NBA.com, that's what Kevin Durant is shooting from midrange to start this season.

Why is that notable? Well, it's about as automatic as it gets.

Put it this way: Durant is one of 113 players who have attempted at least 15 shots from midrange through the first three weeks of the season. Want to guess how many of those players have converted their midrange jumpers at a higher rate than Durant? Only two - Nikola Jokic (63.0 percent) and LaMarcus Aldridge (65.3 percent).

The kicker is neither one of them has made nearly as many from that distance as Durant. In fact, only one player in the entire league can come close to him in that regard.

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Durant's 52 field goals from midrange are the most in the league. DeMar DeRozan (47) is the closest to him, followed by a distant Paul George (38), Dejounte Murray (35), Trae Young (34) and Tyler Herro (34).

So not only has Durant been the league's most prolific midrange scorer so far this season, but he's been one of the most efficient.

League leaders from midrange (2021-22)
Player FGM FGA FG%
Kevin Durant 52 85 61.2
DeMar DeRozan 47 112 42.0
Paul George 38 79 48.1
Dejounte Murray 35 79 44.3
Tyler Herro 34 65 52.3
Trae Young 34 61 55.7
Devin Booker 33 79 41.8
LaMarcus Aldridge 32 49 65.3
Chris Paul 30 54 55.6
Brandon Ingram 29 67 43.3
Anthony Davis 28 72 38.9
Zach LaVine 28 63 44.4
Gary Trent Jr. 28 54 51.9

Durant being a midrange savant is nothing new, of course. An 11-time All-Star, four-time scoring champion, two-time champion, two-time Finals MVP and one-time MVP, he has been lighting up opponents from midrange for over a decade at this point. It's long been his weapon of choice, even predating his time in the NBA.

At 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan, Durant has a natural size and length advantage over most defenders. Sometimes, it's as simple as shooting over them.

Not even centers like Myles Turner stand much of a chance of disrupting his shot.

If Durant feels like he needs a little more space, his fadeaway usually does the trick, giving him an even higher release point.

He even has Dirk Nowitzki's famous one-legged fadeaway in his bag.

With his comfort pulling up, playing drop coverage against Durant is usually a losing game.

To tie a bow on it, Durant has the handle to do stuff like this on the regular:

Goodness.

The combination gives Durant the tools to torch teams in isolation, off of screens, out of pick-and-rolls and in the post. You probably won't be surprised to hear that he ranks in the 61st percentile or better in scoring efficiency on those plays right now.

The midrange isn't even an efficient shot for most but it's basically a layup for Durant, and it feels like he can get to it whenever he wants. While it helps that many defences are geared towards giving up the midrange nowadays, most players with the size to contest his jumper don't have the speed to keep up with him off the dribble and most players who have the speed to keep up with him off the dribble don't have the size to contest his shot.

It doesn't usually matter if someone is in Durant's face either. According to NBA.com, over two-thirds (67.9 percent) of his shot attempts this season have come against tight coverage, meaning a defender is within two-to-four feet of him. His success rate on those looks? A ridiculous 58.4 percent.

Not all of those are midrangers - there's a decent amount of layups and 3s mixed in because, oh yeah, he's an effortless scorer from all three levels - but a lot of them are.

It's almost like if all else fails, Durant knows he can just rise up. His midrange jumper is the ultimate safety blanket.

Durant probably isn't going to shoot this well from midrange for the entire season, but again, it's not like this is new territory for him. Last season, he made the 19th most field goals from midrange despite playing in only 35 games, doing so at a 50.6 percent clip. He then went berserk in the playoffs, connecting on 55.3 percent of his middies despite the pesky P.J. Tucker being draped all over him for seven straight games in the second round.

If anything, it looks like Durant is only getting better and becoming more unguardable with age.

The proof is in that one key number...

61.2%

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